Teacher regrets writing-test detective work

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SALT LAKE CITY — A second-grade teacher at Washington Elementary School wanted to know which of her students had been writing a swear word all over the classroom, so she asked some of her students to write it out for her.

Her principal confirms that she wanted to compare handwriting samples.

The teacher's approach was called "inappropriate" by the principal, the Salt Lake City School District and a parent whose son took part in the "exercise." Her superiors say they have reprimanded her, but the parent to whom KSL spoke says she forgives her.

Bridgette Barrowes volunteers in her second grade son's classroom, and she was aware that someone was writing dirty words all over the classroom. She said it carried on for two months.

"I don't think she'll ever do this again, but I support her," Barrowes said. "She didn't mean to do any harm. As a mother, I would have done the same thing."

Barrowes says the "dirtiest of all words" was scrawled on textbooks and walls, and the teacher just wanted to get to the bottom of it. She suspected one of the boys, so she kept all the male students inside from recess last week and asked them to write what they thought the F-word was. Although the school district says she didn't spell it out herself.

She didn't mean to do any harm. I would have done the same thing.

–Bridgette Barrowes

"The teacher immediately realized that this is not the way she should have handled the situation, and immediately told the principal and office what had happened," said Jason Olsen, Salt Lake City schools spokesman.

Olsen said the teacher herself called the parents to apologize, as did Principal Rebecca Pittam.

Barrowes said the teacher expressed great remorse, and that she is grateful that she came forward on her own to take ownership of the mistake.

"She's a great teacher; I'd like to see her do the job she's always done," she said. "She needs to pay attention to those children whom she calls her own."

Barrowes said the culprit has not been caught, but fortunately, the profane graffiti has stopped. School officials did not confirm if the teacher had been taken out of the classroom.


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